Sri Lanka finally claimed the World T20 title after being in final several times, but the T20 party is not yet over; neither for Sri Lankans nor for anyone else. In around a week’s time, we’ll see the opening game of the Indian Premier League being played in front of Emirates crowd. This year’s IPL will be a lot different than previous editions as it would be played across three countries making it difficult for the teams to settle. The home advantage which many teams, including but not limited to Rajasthan Royals, enjoyed in previous seasons will not be there for more than half of the season as most of the matches will be played outside India. Owing to these changes, a yet another thrilling IPL is certainly on the cards.
Despite monumental changes in the venues, there’s no significant change made to the format of the tournament. The number of teams are reduced to eight from nine due with PWI not playing this time around; other than that, absolutely no change has been made to the format. Eight teams will lock horns for a spot in final four with first two teams having the luxury of two chances two qualify for the finals due to the same qualifier structure as before.
The Super Kings from Chennai have been the most consistent unit of this league making it to the final four every time we’ve seen the team play. With MSD as skipper of the side, there’s sense of calmness seen in side even in tough circumstances. Dhoni, Raina, Bravo and McCullum form a strong middle order which can demolish any bowling attack on its day. There’s more to come with all-rounders like Jadeja and Ashwin. They have a strong bowling attack with the services of above mentioned spinners and support from other good bowlers. As evident from past results and looking at the side on paper, CSK is the side to beat.
Players to Watch out for: Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Brendon McCullum.
Outright Win Odds: 5.00 @ Bet365
The Daredevils were the devils for the other sides in the initial few seasons of the IPL, but it was all downhill from there. Their icon player Virender Sehwag, who is now with KXIP, went out of form and they had no other batsmen to score quickly in the middle barring Kevin Pieterson and David Warner. Now, they have a brand new side with Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor leading the batting department. With Dinesh Karthick, Manoj Tiwary and Murali Vijay forming the crux of good Indian batsmen, they have a great batting attack, at least it is what it looks like on paper. With revamped side, Delhi Daredevils who struggled in last few editions are looking good to take on any side in the competition.
Players to Watch out for: Kevin Pietersen, Ross Taylor, Shahbaz Nadeem.
Outright Win Odds: 8.00 @ Bet365
KXIP is one of the most fan-followed team largely due to its owner being Preity Zinta. However, more often than not, their fans had to go home disappointed as the team ended up being on the wrong side of the result. Shaun Marsh and David Miller are the only players retained from the previous edition of this glamorous league. Addition of Sehwag has given them the much needed strength at the top of the order. Skipper George Bailey has proved his tactical abilities at the international stage. With good combination of youth and experience coupled with the combination of good foreign and Indian talent, this side will look to turn the tables this time around.
Players to Watch out for: Virender Sehwag, George Bailey, David Miller, Mitchell Johnson.
Outright Win Odds: 7.50 @ Bet365
The farewell campaign of Sachin Tendulkar ended as a fairy-tale with his team first winning the World Cup and then IPL title. Mumbai Indians performed flawlessly in last year’s IPL owing to some decent performances by Mitchell Johnson, Dwayne Smith and Rohit Sharma. They won’t have the services of Mitchell Johnson, but they do have some good bowlers go fill that void. With Zaheer Khan joining them and support from Josh Hazelwood and Harbhajan Singh and of course Malinga, their bowling looks deadly. They have some top class batsmen which makes this side a well balanced side. This team will certainly be a tough customer to deal with.
Players to Watch out for: Rohit Sharma, Lasith Malinga, Michael Hussey, Zaheer Khan.
Outright Win Odds: 6.00 @ Titan Bet
Rajasthan Royals have performed brilliantly over the years despite being tagged underdogs every single time. First under the captaincy of Shane Warne, they won the title in first edition of this league. Later, under the captaincy of Rahul Dravid, this team impressed one and all with its exceptional performance making it to the semis. They have Ajinkya Rahane at the top of the order with Stuart Binny in the middle order to provide the stability. With match-winners like Shane Watson and Brad Hodge and Steve Smith at their disposal and T20 specialist bowlers like James Faulkner and Iqbal Abdulla, they are set to surprise one and all yet again.
Players to Watch out for: Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Brad Hodge, Steve Smith.
Outright Win Odds: 10.00 @ Bet365
This is the team known its hard hitting power at the top of the order and with Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers and Virat Kohli at the top, this is well and truly justified. In earlier versions, they suffered with the problem of lack of Indian talent and good bowlers, but now it seems that they have perfect blend of foreign and Indian players and a well-balanced side. Skipper Virat Kohl, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers along with Yuvraj Singh can demolish any bowling attack which is evident from the stats these players hold. With star studded batting line up and good enough bowling department, this teams might be the toughest team to deal with in the tournament.
Players to Watch out for: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh.
Outright Win Odds: 5.50 @ Titan Bet
Sunrises Hyderabad surprised everyone with their brilliant performance in the last year’s IPL missing the final four by a whisker. Indian star Shikhar Dhawan leads the batting department with good support from David Warner and other domestic players. Darren Sammy has been pretty good with the bat as well as with the ball in recent past playing for the West Indies’ side. Dale Steyn is well known for his lethal deliveries. With expertise in all departments, this side is ready to rock once again.
Players to Watch out for: Darren Sammy, Shikhar Dhawan, Dale Steyn, David Warner.
Outright Win Odds: 6.50 @ Bet365
Kolkata Knight Riders:
One time winners of the title are going in with the same skipper, but different set of players. They still have the services of veteran Jacques Kallis. They’ve strengthened their top order by purchasing Robin Uthappa in the auction. Yusuf Pathan’s power hitting can be handy in the mid overs with Shakib Al Hasan capable of smashing bug ones as well. They have a T20 specialist bowler in Sunil Narine who has proved himself time and again. This team plays loves flamboyance both on and off the field and if they can convert this flamboyance to their performance, other teams will surely have a hard time.
Players to Watch out for: Sunil Narine, Gautam Gambhir, Shakib Al Hasan.
Outright Win Odds: 11.00 @ Bet365
The newest auction has made IPL well and truly open and absolutely any team can claim the title. RR can surprise once again with good team work as they’ve shown us every time or CSK can seal the deal with Dhoni in command. The defending champions, Mumbai Indians are looking good to defend the title as well. KXIP, DD and SRH are looking good and well-balanced to take on any team in the competition. However, RCB largely due to the richness of match winners in batting department and capable bowlers looks to be the strongest contender of the title this time.
Winner: Royal Challenger Bangalore, 5.50 @ Titan Bet